Wexner Medical Center nursing team wins award for innovative care of COVID-19 patients

The Lantern
The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State’s medical intensive care unit nurses were awarded the Magnet Award for their innovative use of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMs) during the pandemic. Credit: Courtesy of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital’s medical intensive care unit within the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State nursing team got a sweet reward for their innovative use of glucose monitoring systems during the pandemic.

The medical intensive care unit nurses were awarded the Magnet Recognition for their innovation. According to the website, the Magnet Recognition Program was created to recognize when nursing teams go above and beyond to improve patient care and outcomes.

“To win this award out of hospitals across not only the nation but internationally was a pretty big deal for us,” Laureen Jones, clinical nurse specialist for the medical intensive care unit, said.

Eileen Faulds, assistant professor at the College of Nursing and endocrinology nurse practitioner, said this year was the first time a panel of all 15 reviewers voted unanimously for the winner.

Faulds said the systems give nurses continuous updates on glucose values without needing to prick a patient’s finger.

Faulds said glucose monitoring systems have been used for years, but only in specific clinics and never on critically-ill patients.

“In the outpatient setting, they are FDA approved as a complete substitute for finger sticks,” Faulds said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the team at the Heart Hospital began thinking about how they could use this technology to monitor IV numbers without entering a patient’s room, Faulds said.

“Back when the pandemic started in March, in the medical intensive care unit, we devised a protocol to be able to use IV pumps outside of the room,” Faulds said.

As the pandemic continued and hospitals faced increasing pressure, the FDA approved the use of continuous glucose monitors to monitor patients with the virus, Faulds said. This made a significant difference for nursing staff because normally they had to go into a patient’s room every hour.

“If you have a patient that isn’t awake, you’re interrupting their sleep, you’re causing them pain every single hour, a little bit of blood loss,” Faulds said. “Those are factors we were able to improve with [continuous glucose monitors].”

Not only did this change make patients more comfortable, but it also protected the health of nurses during the pandemic, Faulds said.

“We obviously see the clear benefit of reducing exposure and saving personal protective equipment,” Faulds said.

While there are many benefits to using this technology, Jones said at the start of its use not all of the nurses believed they should rely on the system.

“I’ve heard from other units that they think that the nurse doesn’t go into the room, and that is not the case,” Jones said. “It does cut down a little bit the number of times the nurse has to enter the room, but it is not a reason for the nurse not to care for that patient.”

After they started using this technology and saw its success, Faulds said they worked to make more people aware of it and hope to see it used more in the future.

“We need to give nurses tools that help them make smarter decisions and decrease their burden, and this ticks all of those boxes off,” Faulds said.

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